As a Pastor and “semi-technical tech head” I have always believed that we the church need to be at the forefront of technology rather than playing catch up as we’ve done so often in the past.

I mean just think, we live in a time where you can at any given moment turn on a T.V. and find some type of Christian television programming, but few remember the time when even owning a television was considered a breach of Mosaic Commandment number 614. It was absolutely unheard of to allow this type of technology into our homes. Now even in store-front size churches T.V.’s are used to show announcements, bible passages, or even video clips to help drive the message home.

Well, technology is now taking another leap forward with the advent of tablet computers. My personal favorite are iPads, and companies like Olive Tree and others (to be fair) are on the cutting edge of this technology and using it to advance the Kingdom.

I started using Olive Tree in 2002 when the Windows PDA’s came out and even then it was a great experience, but nothing like today. Olive Tree’s latest development, Bible Reader 5 is this Pastor’s dream.

As a semi-technical Pastor, (which just means that I know what I want, but lack the knowledge to create it) I use BR 5 relentlessly for just about every facet of ministry. I have an extensive library of study tools from Dakes, Thompson Chain-Reference, and dictionaries of all sorts. Although this may make me look studious, (unless in my study) it is impossible to study deeply. Fortunately, this is where BR 5 steps in since it allows me to have my study with me at all times. Hence, whether on my iPad or my iPhone, I am always well equipped.

Additionally, I use BR 5 in our weekly Bible Studies. I take bible study literally. As a Pastor I refuse to fall into the trap of using my congregation to practice homiletics. Many churches have bible studies, but never really study the bible. So, instead of preaching to my weekly congregation like on Sunday’s, I allow them to pick a topic and we study it together. This gives me the opportunity to teach them how to research, do word study, check background information, etc. With BR 5, I can actually do this on the fly because most of the resources in my library are here on my iPad. BR 5 makes it’s so easy because I can with a few gestures open my library and select which resource we want to explore. And with the new resource guide it is even easier.

Allow me to expound on this point in greater detail. The resource guide sees a passage I’m looking at, and breaks it down by people, places, geography, or notes, if I have any personal notes discussing similar topics, etc. It also shows me which resources have information on the passage being viewed. The following example will demonstrate the efficiency of this method:

Sometimes Easton’s dictionary will have information on a topic and Nave’s dictionary will not. That’s not a major hassle, but the BR 5 resource guide actually looks into your various dictionaries, bibles, and commentaries for you and shows you which resources has information on that topic.

So if I look up Luke 13:6
“The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree”
The resource guide will search all resources in my library and locate just about all information concerning this passage. And the speed by which it performs this function is amazing.

Another way I use BR 5 is in my Sunday sermons. Olive Tree is to be commended because they listened to their clientele and gave us what we wanted. As a bonus, we also got a whole lot of new stuff we didn’t know we wanted until we got it and now we will never live without it. For instance:

The new note section is awesome for taking notes from a sermon or creating your own. The old way was a cute little pop-up window you could type notes in, but it was difficult to follow because you had to scroll up and down to find where you were and well let’s just say it wasn’t very fun or efficient. It wasn’t really designed in IMO for a serious note taker. Well, after being requested by so many users, Olive Tree has gone above the call of duty. Not only do we have notes in our split screen, which allows for a resource on one side and a full page of notes on the other, but the notes section is intuitive.

“Cool” doesn’t even describe the ability to type a scripture and even abbreviate it and instantly it becomes not only a bookmark (sorta), but actually hyper-links you to the scripture itself. So, if you type Luke 13:6, BR 5 hyper-links me to a functional pop-up of Luke 13:6.

I call it functional because if you have a Strong’s based bible up, you can from within the pop-up get the definition for that particular word. One slight draw back, but certainly not a deal breaker is that currently it pulls up the latest translation you have up. For example; when you type Luke 13:6 NLT and the NKJV was up last, it pulls up Luke 13:6
NKJV. It would be very “cool” and even awesome for BR 5 to actually pull up that translation. I know Olive Tree well enough to know they’re listening and will make that happen.

I’ll give you one last way I use it so as to not to bore you. If I haven’t already. The new user customizable gestures features, makes studying or teaching quick and easy. I can use one finger to double tap my screen and my split screen will toggle forward through the menus. So, let’s say I am looking at my notes, but I want to see what other resources there might be in the resource guide. With a double tap of my index finger (my user defined action) I can jump from my notes to the resource guide and if I use two fingers—double tap it will toggle backwards. There are many ways to make this work for me. By double tapping, I can go between menus instantly. All-in-all, I believe BR 5 is a great tool to communicate the Gospel deeply, effectively and precisely.

All your notes can be uploaded for storage via Evernote with just a click of a button, so your sermons or notes are never lost. And can also be shared with your Smartphone.

If you travel like I do, carrying a Notebook is becoming more and more laborious. But, an iPad or Smartphone, loaded with BR 5 is guaranteed to give you the resources needed to research, study, and prepare a well laid out sermon wherever you are.

Definitely, it is a Pastor’s dream.

Written by
Jason D. Jordan